In the world of entrepreneurship, business connections are key. Connections lead to community, joint ventures, and of course, prospects and clients. It’s important that we not only keep the flow of connections going but that we nurture the ones we’ve already made.
That’s where most people break the cycle. We meet someone at a networking event; we assess if there’s an immediate opportunity with the connection, and if we don’t see an immediate “need,” we walk out the door and rarely look at that business card again. And that is one huge missed opportunity.
Here are three tips to keeping the flow of connections going long after you have met them.
As soon as possible after meeting your new connection(s), you should follow up. This is a lost art; not many people are doing it. Because of that, you will stand out. The key here is to follow up in a non-salesy way. You can have a standard follow up email that you send to each one of them. These emails can be set up as a template ahead of time, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time. Even if you want to personalize it, you can do that in the first sentence or two, but the rest of it should be standard. This will save you a ton of time and allow your assistant to handle this for you.
You should also connect to them on any and all social media platforms. Don’t just “friend” or “follow”; send them a private message. This private message should also be a template to save you time. Again, don’t try to “sell” them in this follow-up; your purpose is to keep the connection going.
Keep a list of everyone you meet at live events. This allows you to do two things. First, you can follow up with a phone call. Second, you can keep track of any referrals you send or receive from them. Rarely does an initial meeting result in a sale, so if you track the person and any subsequent conversation you have, you’ll be able to identify where they came from and how long it took to turn into a sale (or a referral!). That kind of data is powerful. I suggest a running list of their name, where you met them, something you connected with them on (or something you can in common with them), and the business possibility. When you make your phone calls, keep a note as to how that conversation went and what took place.
Stay in touch with your connections. We tend to be great at keeping in touch with our prospects, but what about anyone you have met that might be a potential affiliate partner, or a strategic or mastermind partner? Keep in touch, stay in front of them, and build a relationship. Those relationships will build over time, and you just never know what it will lead to. Again, don’t just try to sell them something. Honestly build a relationship with people, because that’s what will lead to the most lucrative partnerships in the future.
The key is to set up a concise system so that the process runs the same each and every time. When you have it set up in a system, it makes it easy to have your assistant or other team member work the process, so you don’t have to.
There are not a lot of people out there who follow any sort of follow-up process. I rarely hear from anyone that I meet at live events. It’s a great way to stand out above your competition and to get a jump start on building some great relationships.